Politicians get earful from politicians

B.C. government sends emissaries to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

MLA Marc Dalton and Maple Ridge mayor Ernie Daykin.

MLA Marc Dalton and Maple Ridge mayor Ernie Daykin.

They sat and listened politely, took notes and promised to get back.

The government’s rural caucus tour of four MLAs stopped in Maple Ridge Thursday to hear local concerns and it’s hoped, relay those back to the decision makers.

Mayor Ernie Daykin was first on the list, asking why TransLink refuses to pay for a feasibility study on expansion of West Coast Express.

“We hear over and over and over again, a midday service or a weekend service is something our residents are really looking for.”

Mayors along the line asked for a feasibility study following the 2010 Winter Games but were rejected by TransLink.

But that agency paid $250,000 for a study on a gondola to SFU, Daykin pointed out.

“I don’t know if it would be that much. “We need to figure out how to do it. We need to see that addressed.

“When the Evergreen line gets built there’s a huge potential for West Coast Express to feed that.”

Daykin also repeated his point that 40 per cent of those boarding the West Coast Express in Mission are from Abbotsford, which pays nothing to support the service, and suggested a gas tax of one or two cents a litre be charged in that city.

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton said he’s been discussing that and suggested a midday train only run as far as Maple Ridge, skipping the eastern terminus of Mission which serves many Abbotsford residents whose city doesn’t contribute to the service.

Considering the commuter train only runs five times each evening and morning, it’s not a great service for the money Maple Ridge is paying TransLink, added Coun. Michael Morden.

He’s gets e-mails from students who can’t get to college or university by bus from Maple Ridge.

Dalton, along with Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, Donna Barnett, Caribou-Chilcotin, and Douglas Horne (Coquitlam-Burke Mtn.) and Eric  Foste rstopped in Mission and Pitt Meadows that day.

Daykin also said funding of the Agricultural Land Commission was inadequate.

“It is a concern and we feel the government should address that. We just feel it’s underfunded.”

Lack of money was also a concern for the river group.

“The cutbacks to the Ministry of Environment have definitely been noticed. We’ve had few interactions – and when we do, it’s not timely,” said Amanda Crowston, executive-director of Alouette River Management Society.

She said the river society used to run workshops in Golden Ears Provincial Park with summer students and education staff.

But the last year that took place was 2007 in  conjunction with a parks interpreter. ARMS likes to partner with parks for those presentations but those are no longer available.

ARMS is also worried that its main $40,000 B.C. gaming grant, which expires this fall, may not be renewed.

She added when the investigation was going on in 2009 into the installation of an irrigation pipe into the North Alouette River without having a water licence, it was difficult to know who to talk to.

Golden Eagle, part of the Aquilini Investment Group, is now facing Water Act and Fisheries Act charges in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court.

“We questioned why it (the pump) wasn’t ordered removed when it was under investigation,” Crowston said.

Peter Cummings, representing greenhouse growers, told politicians that flower and vegetable producers were being hurt by the carbon tax, making the industry uncompetitive with other areas.

This year in his operation, he’ll pay $450,000 in the carbon tax on farm sales of $24 million.

Barnett though said she’s heard about the issue up north while Hawes said some kind of help is being considered, given that producers use the carbon dioxide for growing their plants.

Executive director for the Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre Audrey Taylor said the budget for the Ministry of Children and Family Development should be doubled while Webster’s Corners resident Steve Kovacs, said he’s being paying taxes for 53 years and wants the No. 701 bus route extended to 256th Street. “Then I could buy a bus pass.”